That was interesting. I'm going to flesh this out because I think a lot of these questions asked about Eckstein might ring true for your school building.
I was a little confused at first as there were very few parents (even at 5:45 pm) and no handout. It was in the Eckstein auditorium (about 1/3 ish full by the time it started.) The organizers were smart; Eckstein's curriculum night followed at 7 pm. (although what a parking nightmare).
The district was represented by Flip Herndon, Richard Best, Bruce Skowyra. The meeting was videotaped (by I don't know by whom). Principal Sherry Kokx was there as was Executive Director, Kim Whitworth. Elected officials included Rep. Gerry Pollet and Rep. David Frockt. I saw no School Board members.
Dr. Herndon said he would answer some questions already submitted and then take questions. It's pretty easy - as the parents/staff circled back to the same questions - what the issue is.
The district has a commitment to getting work done. I do truly believe that BUT there are many schools with many needs and it takes time and money. And, our district does NOT have a commitment to maintenance.
Eckstein, like many an old building, is having work done to it piecemeal. (Did you know that when it says "new roof" on a BTA list, it could be just part? They rarely do an entire roof except on elementaries.)
Some work was done this past summer and prior to that: replaced boilers, DVC control system partial replacement, demolished portables, re-carpeted and installed new lighting lenses (don't know what the last one means).
Next summer, they will spend $2.2 M on roof, waterlines, upgrade mechanical system and fire sprinkler system.
But, as was pointed out, they are trying to shift a partially old and partially new HVAC system from nematic to digital. That seems like a big cross-your-fingers and hope it will work.
They were asked what is the district standard for room temps? 68 for heating, 76 for cooling. (To note, 90% of the schools do not have A/C; I'm dying to know which ones do have it.) There were many questions and complaints on the temperatures. Several teachers have said that, despite the work during the summer, their rooms are too hot or cold.
Mr. S said that with the digital system they can control it from JSCEE but that he has only 3-4 techs to answer issues for 97 schools.
Dr. Herndon was asked: Seems like made a decision that building will have repairs. Why did you make that decision versus replacing it?
Flip - larger question about major projects get on BEX levy. Eckstein is a landmarked building and cannot be torn all the way down and then renovated. He said that adds expense and they haven't done the calculations but it would seem to be about $75M.
Is Eckstein slated to be on BEX V?
Not sure. BEX V will come in Feb. 2019 There are no conversations yet but planning is generally 18 months ahead. He said they are working on BTA IV now.
Such a seemingly simple question but one not easily answered. One thing to understand; just because a building makes one BEX list, it doesn't necessarily mean it will be on the next.
Of course middle schools were next and should have been on BEX IV. I sat in a room - let's see was it two Facilities managers ago? - and they said that was the case. Of course, that was before the district realized that they had truly underestimated growth, had closed buildings and now would have to spend money to reopen those closed buildings AND open long-closed buildings. And, the early surge was in elementary.
The district also admitted that they only can handle emergency or high need maintenance requests. The emergency ones get done in 24 hours.
Bruce said this is one of things the district is proud of that "we have high water quality standards in this school and district." He said the testing on March 14, 2014, came in at 100% at Eckstein. When asked about the water potability in the bathrooms he said the water is not tested in the bathrooms for drinking.
? combined sewer overflow
Best said this was a problem with the City and they had crews at Eckstein until 2 in the morning the night before school (as well as at multiple schools).
? Seismic structural
They said there were planned improvements as part of BTA III or BEX IV, with half the schools to get seismic under BTA III and other half already done. Best said they were done to prepare for a "standard earthquake."
Two points. One, I'll have to check that seismic claim. I find it hard to believe that all the buildings will be done by the end of BTA III. Two, I'll have to ask for the SPS definition of a "standard earthquake."
Apparently there are also issues at Eckstein with asbestos in the floor tiles. One teacher said she had health problems and the custodian said until she got a mat under her chair, she would keep rubbing into the tile structure. Best tried to say that there were "50 coats of wax" on the floor from decades of maintenance so not likely any tile was airborne. The teacher said she got the mat and stopped having headaches.
Other issues include loudness of heating system (one teacher said she had it turned off during her class last year as she was a mobile teacher but could not get it done this year) and that if the district wanted good testing outcomes, the temperatures would have to stabilize.
Towards the end of the meeting, Rep Pollet said he was speaking respectfully but he asked if the district could commit to 30 days taking data and having a schedule to address most pressing heat/cooling problem.
Herndon said, when I have data, we hope to have temperature controls set for that area.
Pollet responded that "you do know where the problems are so why not a 30 day schedule with assurances that this is being controlled ?"
Herndon said, "We can look at that and I think we can it do."
They took questions and, to their credit, allowed me to speak. While I do believe Facilities is heartfelt in their wishes to do better, it sometimes looks like they are either not doing what they say they will or are be buffeted by forces outside their control.
I say that because BTA IV talk is already making me uneasy.
So I told the crowd this:
- the district had cut back on maintenance since the late '70s and my example was if you own a house and don't maintain it, you know what will happen to the condition of your home.
- that the district had blurred the lines of what BEX is for and what BTA is for. And, that they were considering $100M for a new downtown high school and $53M for the Federal Reserve building. Out of BTA III's $270M, that would be $153M. More than half of the levy for two new buildings.
- that the Board (and the district) just signed off to telling the State that they have all the capital dollars they need for new buildings and improvements to old ones.
There was a bit of a stunned silence but I think I made the point.
So let the Hunger Games begin for BTA IV (I'm half-kidding). Because everyone deserves to know what the discussion is for those dollars and everyone who needs major improvements/renovation to their building should ALSO be able to throw their hat into the BTA ring.
At least let's have an honest and broad discussion.